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US altering Black Sea deployment concept, says Russian military expert

According to Ivan Konovalov, the United States has thus far been unable to streamline interoperability with its NATO allies

MOSCOW, November 11. /TASS/. The United States and NATO have switched to practicing Black Sea deployments by whole squadrons and task forces instead of standalone combat ships, military expert, Director for Development at the Fund for Assistance to 21st Century Technologies Ivan Konovalov told TASS on Thursday.

"It is obvious that the Americans are trying to change the concept of their presence in the Black Sea and now we see three warships - a combat vessel, a command ship and a tanker - instead of a standalone ship on a rotation mission as was the case before," the military expert pointed out.

Actually, a small naval group is engaged in practice operations as part of a large squadron, he said.

"The United States is altering the concept of its presence in the Black Sea space with an emphasis on a long-term perspective and large-scale naval operations," he stressed.

However, the United States has thus far been unable to streamline interoperability with its NATO allies, the military expert said.

"They are trying to practice interoperability, although these efforts have hardly been successful enough: in actual fact, this interaction involves only US and UK forces. The Ukrainian Fleet does not exist while the Romanians are ready to fulfill any US and NATO orders but they are hardly a serious ally. Bulgaria has its own position while Turkey behaves as an independent actor," he stressed.

Paring off provocations

For his part, military expert, CEO of the Bureau of Military and Political Analysis Alexander Mikhailov said in an interview with TASS that Russia was confidently controlling the Black Sea region from Crimea and was capable of paring off any threats.

"Considering the presence of Crimea and the armaments deployed there, including anti-ballistic missile and air defenses and radars, i.e. all the required anti-ship systems, this area turns into an impregnable outpost that is very unpleasant for the entire Black Sea space assigned to NATO states," the military expert said.

Russia has also learned to thwart provocations in the media space, he pointed out.

"To this end, information resources geared to overseas audiences are working and in terms of military propaganda, we can also safeguard our positions," Mikhailov pointed out.

"Thanks to the statements that we have begun to make very actively in addition to measures for strengthening the Black Sea coast through the build-up of advanced and upgraded armaments and stronger anti-ballistic missile and air defense, we show full readiness for any scenario," the expert pointed out.

Russian Defense Ministry’s reaction

Russia’s Defense Ministry reported on Tuesday that the United States was setting up a multinational group of armed forces close to the Russian border. As the ministry stressed, such moves are a destabilizing factor in the region and, in particular, pursue the goal of the military exploitation of Ukrainian territory.

The Russian armed forces are continuously and closely following the situation. The Russian Black Sea Fleet is carrying out a set of measures to track the US warships’ deployments in the Black Sea, the ministry said.

As the Russian Defense Ministry later reported, considering that in addition to the US Navy, the upcoming drills will involve tactical, patrol and strategic aircraft, and also the contingents of the armed forces of Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine, this is evidence of an attempt to study the prospective theater of military operations in case Kiev prepares a use-of-force scenario in the southeast.